1. Expert Q&A: Protecting a person with dementia from financial abuse - Weds 26 June, 3:30-4:30 pm

    Financial abuse can have serious consequences for a person with dementia. Find out how to protect a person with dementia from financial abuse.

    Sam, our Knowledge Officer (Legal and Welfare Rights) is our expert on this topic. She will be here to answer your questions on Wednesday 26 June between 3:30 - 4:30 pm.

    You can either post questions >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll answer as many as we can on the day.

  1. alfjess

    alfjess Registered User

    Jul 10, 2006
    south lanarkshire
    Hi All
    Is there anyway to test the ability to swallow? My Dad is eating less and less. The day care centre phoned me to-day concerned, because he hadn't eaten anything while there, not even the soup or the ice cream and jelly. Yesterday dinner, in my house he only ate mashed potaoes and baked beans, to- night only mashed potatoes. I make mashed potaoes because I think he prefers it and it is easy for him.
    In the not to distant past, he could swallow his meds without even water, now he is playing with them, especially the biggest tablet (quinine) and he now chews the tablets, I always give him water with the meds.
    He doesn't like going to the day care centre, but Mum who also has AD, insists.
    Is this a sort of rebellion or does he have a problem swallowing? Is there anyway I could find out and therefore deal with it?
  2. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Hiya Alfjess,
    Have you discussed the problem with dad's GP. I know I have seen references to Speech therapists being involved to help with swallowing? Does dad have any other problems eg throat infection, mouth ulcers, loose teeth, that may deter him from eating?
    Love Helen
  3. dmc

    dmc Registered User

    Mar 13, 2006
    hi alfjess

    id be interested to know the answer to that also,
    my mum has gone through phases of not being able to swallow her meds chewing the tabs and even keeping the liquid medication in her mouth to downing them three at a time:confused:
    at the moment she's back to chewing them again, she's just had another UTI so i dont know if thats the cause.
    she seems to be able to swallow food but only if its given to her she wont attempt to eat herself at the moment.
    to be honest im not sure there is a answer its just one of them things, but i do know mum seen the speech therapist when it first started happening.
    all they suggested was liquid medication, which she holds in her mouth!
    hope you able to get to the cause of it, im still trying too
    take care x
  4. alfjess

    alfjess Registered User

    Jul 10, 2006
    south lanarkshire
    Hi all
    Thanks for your replies.
    I took my Dad to GP last Monday, his throat, temp, everything was ok, so there is no, infection. Maybe an appointment with the dentist, to make sure his dentures fit is the next step.
  5. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    Maybe even in a demented persons confused state or damaged brain its their way of saying enough is enough

    I appreciate you will not like to think of them effectively starving themselves but nature has funny ways of doing things
  6. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    I am starting to wonder if my mum IS trying to starve herself to death….

    I watch a cream cake slip down without ‘touching the sides’ - almost she can’t resist….. and certainly no swallowing problems there… but unless I physically sit with her and watch her eat something I’ve prepared I am convinced that most of what I cook/buy goes into the bin….. She insists at times she doesn’t ‘need’ anymore food … when I know she’s got next to nothing in (have to keep it that way because she’d eat rancid stuff when and if she chose to)

    But why would she (starve herself)? She’s got a cupboard full of painkillers if she really wanted to take that route…… what IS this thing with food?????

    Sorry, in danger of entering into a ‘dodgy topic’ - but this is a recurring theme which is really hitting home just now…..

    Any ideas welcomed, love, Karen (TF), x

    (Alfjess, thanks for that word ‘rebellion’ - really struck a nerve. Good luck with your dad at the dentist!).
  7. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    I am sure my mother was starving herself and even when one of us was there she was just messing a lot of food around and putting it in the bin.

    I don't actually know if she deliberately starved herself to death, or if there was a point when she would have changed her mind if one of us had been there.
  8. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    There are some days when I feel so tired I cannot be bothered to cook, but eat to give me the energy to get over that tiredness dip. What if I didn't realise that eating did that?
    There were times when my toddlers were so tired they would fall asleep mid mouthful - the urge to sleep was stronger than the urge to eat. As babies some times they were too tired to take a feed.
    When I diet (need to!), after a few days the urge to eat goes - the stomach shrinks, feel easily full

    Maybe with dementia the understanding of the importance of nourishment is gone - so foods that taste good (cakes, icecream) are enjoyed, and the rest can be a bit of a chore.

    As mum's dementia progressed, she did not realise the significance of hot rings on the electric cooker, or flames in the fire. I didn't think she was trying to burn herself to death. She lost her road sense, I didn't think that she was trying to kill herself under a car. If not held, she would have fallen downstairs, I didn't think that she was trying to throw herself down to end things. She would feed the dog, but not think of getting herself and dad a meal, I didn't think that she was trying to starve herself. Like all the rest, just a part of the brain had stopped working.
    Just my opinion.
    Love Helen
  9. dmc

    dmc Registered User

    Mar 13, 2006
    hi amy

    as opinions go i think you made a fair point there, it had started to go through my mind that perhaps somehow my mum knew what she was doing, (not eating/taking meds) becouse i know she would hate the way she is now (as all our loved ones i expect).
    but to be honest i really dont know how she is now, does she realise she cant do things that came so natural to her such a short time ago, i know im never going to get the answers i want, so im not even going to start looking, but you have made me think about things from another angle, that perhaps its not that she dosent want to eat its just that she dosent realise she has to.
    i think ive just had one of them "lightbulb" moments:rolleyes:

    thanks take care xx:)
  10. Kayla

    Kayla Registered User

    May 14, 2006
    My Mum has been eating well in the NH and has maintained or increased her weight, which went very low during her hospital stay. Once or twice she has been unwell at the NH, and they've said that she won't feed herself and someone has had to help her. She also goes very quiet for a while. Then she has returned to normal.
    I think these episodes might be "mini strokes" as she never seems to get back to quite the same level. She did start walking again in the NH and trying to escape, but then reverted to just sitting in her chair. It is as though everything is too much trouble and she is weary of life. Her rheumatoid arthritis causes her pain if she moves around too much. I don't think it would even occur to her, to starve herself deliberately, but sometimes she just feels too tired to bother feeding herself.
  11. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Donna, how is mum. Can she still smile? Does she seem depressed? Is she behaving like she is in mental anguish? I think we have to take care to look at the whole picture. I am sure no-one would choose to be where our mum's are, would not want to think of that being their future - thankfully I think that for many dementia takes away that awareness of the situation.
    Love Helen
  12. Bets

    Bets Registered User

    Aug 11, 2005
    South-East London, UK
    Hi Alfjess,

    Yes, there are ways of ascertaining whether someone has some physical difficulty in swallowing and a speech and language therapist is the best person to assess this. You don't need a GP referral to see one. Phone your local clinic or Primary Health Care Trust and get a contact name and number and ask for an assessment for your father.

  13. dmc

    dmc Registered User

    Mar 13, 2006
    hi amy

    since she's been in this new hospital she's had two UTI's so its really hard to say what she's really like becouse as you know these infections can have a dramatic effect on the person involved.

    but saying that she has been very withdrawn, depressed, very morbid, speech not good so the staff have taken her off the haloperidol she was on and put her on a antidepressant, in the last few days there has been some improvement she actually smiled at my dad tonight and he said she was much more talkative.

    when i look into her eyes to me she looks so scared, it reminds me of someone waking up during a op but not being able to tell people their awake!
    the doctors told me mum would have no knowledge of what was going on but i think she knows something is wrong but she dosent know how to tell us.
    i hope im wrong

    take care thanks for the reply x
  14. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Hiya Donna,
    Keep telling her she is loved, how proud you are of the way she is dealing with her illness, that she is safe - hopefully those are the things that she will understand.
    Take care
    Love Helen
  15. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    test for swallowing

    one way is type of X=ray called barium swallow. the patient has to drink barium liquid and they take various x-ray images of the process. it shows up physical problems with the process.

    it could be worth noticing whether dad swallows much normally ..... when he's not eating. most of us swallow to clear saliva pretty frequently. it might be interesting to notice whether he does. its often speech and language therapists who deal with swallowing problems. they can look at how the patient manages swallowing foods/liquids of various consistencies and get some sense of whether physical mechanisms working.

    swallowing can be big problem for people with Alz. not just swallowing hard things, but also liquids. quite a lot of people in dad's nursing home have to have liquids thickened in order to be able to swallow them. i was amazed to hear that one of the most difficult things to swallow is saliva! ...... speech therapist said this is because the things that trigger swallowing reflex are weight of the food/drink, heat or cold ....... saliva virtually weightless and is same as body temp.

    maybe good place to start is to ask GP about referal to speech and language?

    best wishes

  16. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Thanks for that Áine; mum often dribbles these days. I can now explain to dad why - he will find it easier to accept.
    Love Helen
  17. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    Really pleased if that was helpful Amy. Drooling was a huge problem for dad - there were days when his mouth would just pour like a tap (and some when it didn't - and we could find no sensible explanation as to why). Possible helpful hints from searching around about it:

    a) drinking frequently helps with prompting swallowing of saliva .... keep bottle of water with you (the ones with the sports tops are easiest to manage) and take sips of it regularly.
    b) the sports-type wrist sweat bands can be useful alternative to trying to remember to carry a tissue/hanky
    c) some medications have "side effect" of drying the mouth a bit which can help. amitriptyline (anti-depressant) is sometimes used for this and can have added advantage if the person taking it is a bit depressed anyway. dad tried it for a while, and it definately cleared the drooling problem ............. unfortunately it also sent him completely off his head, so it needs using with care.

  18. zan

    zan Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    I would advise you to ask his GP to properly investigate why your Dad isn't swallowing properly. My Dad developed swallowing problems and we were told that it was probably due to him forgetting how to swallow because of the AD. Eventually they took us seriously and found that it was not the AD at all but a physical problem. Does your Dad ever drink or eat and the food/drink comes back up again or is it just that his appetite is low? Hope all goes well and that your Dad is eating properly soon, love Zan

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